By Mike Riley
As I was walking my little Dachshund dog this afternoon, I noticed a young man in his teens smoking a cigarette while standing alongside a concrete fence. Looking at him smoking reminded me of my high school years, when my peers wanted me to succumb to the idea of “lighting up” simply because they thought it was “cool.”
If I had allowed myself to follow my peers because of their hateful barbs, I would have more than likely acquired the nicotine “fix” that so many young people have acquired through the years. But I decided to be a leader instead of a follower, and as a result, I’m still “smoke free” today. Like my grandmother, I often wondered what “thrill” young people received from putting fire and smoke down their throat and lungs, and I’m still wondering the same thing today.
Young people, I can personally testify to the fact that it’s not easy being a leader. It takes great moral courage and dedication to live above the crowd, not partaking of their worldly lifestyles. You will more than likely be rejected by your peers because you’ve chosen a “different” road.
But know this. You and God make up the majority. In the Old Testament, young Joseph had a difficult decision to make when he decided to reject the advances of a married woman, but He made his decision with God in mind, and you must do the same.
Joseph told Potiphar‘s wife, “There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9; cf. Proverbs 6:29, 32).
A word to the wise — be a leader! Just because “everyone is doing it” doesn’t mean it’s good for you to “do it.” Allow God to be your Friend, Mentor and Guide (Proverbs 3:5-6; cf. Psalm 37:5), for He will never lead you astray nor into activities that are harmful to your mind or body (Deuteronomy 6:24-25; Deuteronomy 10:12-13).
Read, study and make application of the spiritual principles found in God’s word (Ephesians 3:1-4; 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV; Hebrews 5:13-14) in your daily living. You’ll never regret it, and that’s a guarantee from one who has “walked the walk” (since January, 1960) and is still doing so. Do I have many friends? No, but I do have one Friend (Hebrews 2:23; cf. 2 Chronicles 20:7) who has never forsaken me nor ever will (Genesis 28:15; Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5), and that is indeed a great blessing!
May the promises and blessings of God be yours (2 Corinthians 6:14-18, 7:1; Ephesians 1:3) as you “walk” with Him (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5).